If its inaugural event is any indication of things to come, Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts’ “New Year’s Extravaganza” may well become one of Central Indiana’s most popular annual holiday traditions.
Held Thursday at the Palladium, the festivities included three simultaneous parties.The first featured dancing to music by Flatbed Twitch, a combined country, gospel, soul, rock ‘n’ roll band in the Founders Room. The Bishops, another multi-genre party band performed in the Robert Adams Room. A third party held in the Shiel Sexton Songbook Lounge offered karaoke provided by P3 Productions. Also available at each of the parties were hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
The three parties, all of which began at 8 p.m. preceded the main attraction, a 10 p.m. concert featuring The Hot Sardines, one of the country’s most sought-after groups. The band, which features a “hot jazz” repertoire, plays vintage music from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s to which they add a contemporary twist. Reviewed previously by this writer, the band’s last appearance in the area was at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in Feb., 2015.
Besides “Miz Elizabeth” Bougerol, and the band’s other co-founder and bandleader Evan “Bibs” Palazzo on piano, the New York-based group included Mike Sailors (coronet), Jason Prover (trumpet), Alex Raderman (percussion), Nick Myers (clarinet/saxophone) and Evan “Sugar” Crane (upright bass). Contributing to the uniqueness of the group of virtuoso musicians was tap dancer Edwin “Fast Eddy” Francisco.
With some members dressed in period clothes, the band with the quirky name lived up to its moniker through the showmanship of each musician who affected an attitude reminiscent of performers from bygone years. Songs in Act 1 included “I Wanna Be like You,” “I Love You,” “Dinah,” “Until the Real Thing,” and “Running Wild.”
During an intermission that saw male patrons wearing cardboard top hats and women in tiaras with Happy New Year emblazoned on them, many headed for the bars in the Center’s lobbies. At Bougeral’s suggestion, they secured drinks for the traditional toast that was to take place later. Afterward, the band returned for an Act 2 program that incorporated the countdown till midnight.
Act 2 highlights included the snappy French language “Zazou (Sweet Sue)” sung by the Paris-born Bougerol playing a washboard with her fellow musicians chiming in with vocals during the chorus. Other tunes included “Weed Smokers,” “Lady Be Good,” and “Summertime.”
At the appointed time, the band led the mostly middle and baby boomer-aged audience in the midnight countdown to 2016 during which they exclaimed, “Happy New Year!” as they kissed and hugged one another. Afterwards, the band sang the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” after which the band closed the concert with the kind of unconventional performance for which they have become celebrated.
To the audience’s astonishment and delight, the bass player and drummer took to the floor with clarinetist Myers doing a solo while lying on his back during the band’s closing number “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” a Yiddish song made famous by The Andrews Sisters.
Though complaints were shared by some patrons with this writer regarding the length of lines at a few bars, and the need for more food stations, it appeared that most of the good-humored party goers thoroughly enjoyed themselves. No doubt event organizers will iron out the bugs in time for next year’s celebrations, but for a first time effort, the Center deserves praise for an elegant evening accented by the panache of the irrepressible Hot Sardines.
For tickets and information regarding the remainder of the Center for the Performing Arts’ 2015-2016 season call (317) 843-3800 or visit thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.